VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State claimed a pair of two-run victories as the Blazers swept a Gulf South Conference doubleheader 6-4 and 2-0 from No. 25 West Florida at Billy Grant Field Saturday.
With the sweep, VSU improves to 26-16 on the season and 14-8 in GSC play while West Florida fell to 31-15 and 10-11.
Valdosta State opened the scoring with two outs in the second inning of game one as Austin Lawrence singled up the middle before Buster Jackson reached on a bunt single. After a passed ball moved both runners up a base, Steven Groves got a hit up the middle that scored both Lawrence and Jackson for a 2-0 VSU lead.
West Florida got a run back in top of the third when Taye Larry singled and stole second before scoring on a Dustin Saulmon single up the middle, but had the Blazers add four runs while sending 10 batters to the plate in the fifth inning to build a 6-1 lead.
Jackson led off the Blazer half of the fifth inning with a single and moved to second on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt. Two batters later, Ryan Noelte singled through the right-side of the infield to score Jackson and, after moving to second on the throw home on the Jackson run, scored when Chaz Bagwell singled up the middle. Marc Overstreet proceeded to reach via a catcher's interference call and Christian Glisson was intentionally walked before Bryant Hayman was hit by a pitch to force home Bagwell. A wild pitch from UWF relief pitcher Jordan DeLorenzo scored Overstreet for the inning's final run.
The Argonauts made things interesting in the ninth as the first four UWF batters of the reached base. Saulmon collected his second RBI of the game as he was hit in the foot by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive home Leo Lamarche. After a fielder's choice retired a runner at plate, Josh Huggins drew a walk to drive home the inning's second run before Bagwell was unable to hold the bag on a throw to first on a chopper to allow a third run to come home.
Pete Whittingslow improved to 5-4 for the Blazers as he allowed six hits and walked four but surrendered only one run while striking out eight in a career-high 7.1 innings of work. Meanwhile, Josh Tanski fell to 4-4 after giving up seven hits and five runs in 4.1 innings.
Bagwell, Jackson and Noelte all had two hits to lead VSU offensively in the game as Valdosta State tallied 10 in the game.
The two teams played scoreless through the first three innings of game two before the Blazers struck for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Cameron Graves hit a ground ball that went between the legs of UWF second baseman Lamarche. Bryant Hayman followed with his eighth home run of the year to put Valdosta State in front 2-0.
The two runs would be all that Valdosta State needed in the game as the West Florida offense stranded eight base runners in the game, including two that reached with just one out in the seventh inning.
Nick Fogarty pitched a complete game and allowed six hits while walking one to improve to 2-0 on the year. He struck out six batters while pitching Valdosta State to its fifth shutout of the year. The Blazers got just three hits in the game, one each from Overstreet, Glisson and Hayman.
The two teams will conclude the three game series with a single game beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. The seven Valdosta State seniors will be honored prior to the game.